Starting in the museum's early days as a volunteer effort to save historic locomotives from deterioration, restoration has grown to a major program, combining the Museum Curator of History's professional leadership, a small paid staff, and extensive volunteer effort.
Now housed in a specially constructed restoration shop with ancillary facilities as well, the program is supported by extensive equipment and facilities. Workers bring a wide range of skills, including metal working, wood working, welding, painting, and electrical. Characterized as a focused but fun-loving effort, the team has successfully undertaken a series of major jobs, many of which are recounted here.
Major emphasis is placed on restoring equipment to designated standards of appearance and material, balancing cosmetic authenticity with practicality in an era when the infrastructure that originally built this equipment no longer exists.
Plant maintenance of the entire museum is now managed from here as well. Recent non-rolling stock improvements have included overseeing the construction of the new museum entrance building, the rebuilding of the historic Broad Street Station clock, creation of an expanded Railroaders Hall plaque display, and the rebuilding of the large restoration yard trackage seen at right. More examples.
Efforts have been supported by extensive fund-raising by the Friends of the Railroad Museum, federal grants, and other sources. Each project is carefully planned, safely executed, accurately documented, and professional conservation standards applied.
One of the most meticulous jobs was the restoration of the Pennsylvania Railroad Air Brake Instruction car No. 492445, under a Save America's Treasures grant. See the project's complex steps here.
Some major jobs are contracted out, as may be seen here.
See our progress on No. 460's restoration!
See the rebuilt "bobber" cabin car